Friday, October 23, 2015

Synod of Neuralgic Introspection

I have sympathy for those who perturbed by what the Synod might come up with, and what the Pope might say or do. I can understand those who ask what the purpose of the Synod was, I don't know what the Pope really wanted, that is a closed book, and likely to be closed forever. It is easier to speculate what God wants, we have more clues.

The Synod has revealed the mess that already exists in the Church, the diversity of pastoral practice, the diversity of opinions, the diversity of orthodoxies, and heterodoxies too. Many will argue why not just leave these swept under the carpet and pretend we are united.

From what I know about God he is not into dumb-shows or pretending anything. Before he is the God of surprises he is the God of truth and transparency, of honesty and integrity. One of the things that surprises me is how little the Synod Fathers have spoken about God himself, about grace, about salvation, about the supernatural, or even conversion. That is at least honest, today's Church is not that concerned about these things either, so no wonder we are obsessed by being "where we are at" rather than the more hope filled, "where God desires us to be" and "where God empowers us to be". In our characteristic, neo-Jansenist Western way, we are obsessed with wounds and blood and individuals suffering or sentimentality rather than the blinding light of the Transfiguration or the Resurrection, or the transforming fire of Pentecost. We concentrate on our sin rather than his grace, on what is below rather than what is from above. The Synod reflected perfectly the neuralgic introspection of the Church of 20th century Europe, so many interventions echoed its death rattle, scratching the itch of its own indisposition.

The two noted highlights of the Synod came from the other lung of the Church from the East, one was from Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea, from Romania and the other from the Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, both were critical of the place where the Church is at, both called the Church to be faithful, prophetic and counter cultural. I do doubt that we are capable in the Church's present situation of responding to them or even hearing them.

Pope Francis arrives for a plenary session at the Synod on the Family - ANSAThe crisis is one of unity, there have been calls for 'regionalisation' or 'decentralisation' but that is precisely what we have. It strikes me the Pope, in rather Jesuitical way, merely wants to codify or legislate for something that actually already exists. The alternative is to let things continue as they are, to let the dirt, as it were, to continue to be swept under the carpet. By lifting the carpet the floor can either be swept or more dirt added. possibly with additional bits of debris, I like many fear the latter.

The role of the Bishop of Rome is to be the chief floor sweeper, to say 'no', to say which Churches or doctrines are so far beyond the pale that they have broken communion with him or are heretical. The next crisis, possibly the next Synod ought to be on his role. It strikes me that the Ultramontane spirit of Vatican One, is both far from what has been Catholic Tradition or what that Council actually defined. The Pope is not an innovator or an introducer of novelties, nor is his personal whim, as Cardinal Wuerl, would have it, is the touchstone of orthodoxy.

I wonder if the Church was better off, when presumably in the first few centuries no-one outside of Rome knew his name, or if he had been martyred and replaced, or sent to the mines, or as in the pornocracy one was uncertain of who the Pope was but knew he must be either having a relationship with, or was related to, the harlot Morazia. I think of Moore and Fisher defending the Papacy, yet being scandalised by the Pope or during the modern period knowing the Pope was either pawn of either the Spanish, the French, or an appointee of the Austro-Hungarians. The post Vatican II papacy seems unworkable. The liturgical reforms were not the work of the Council but of the Papam vult of the post-Concilliar Liturgical Concilliam, with all the shady dealing Bouyer reveals. The Presidential style of 'fat pope, thin pope' seems to shake the Church's unity not guarantee it..

I am beginning to feel the great legacy Benedict left us with was his resignation, the idea that the Papacy was not actually linked to a particular man, and certainly not to his preferences or to his whims, but to an institution, ultimately to Church of Rome. With the dismantling of so much, especially the Liturgical Tradition itself, one is left asking 'what is it that makes us Catholic'. Cardinal Wuerl says that those who disagree with 'reform' don't like the Pope. I love him, I pray for him, I try to understand him but liking him has never been the touchstone of Catholicism. Will Wuerl "like" the next Pope, (even if he were Cardinal Burke), or will he cease to be a Catholic? Closet liberal that I am, I am beginning to wonder if the Papacy could maintained but actually exercised a group of Roman Presbyters, maybe it could be a requirement that only the senile ever sat on the Papal throne, or maybe an individual elected for a brief time, say six months, then replaced, or some stylite who comes of his pillar a only few times a year. Absurd ideas, I admit it... but...,.

Image result for kittens
Look at these kittens - would you deny them the Eucharist? I couldn't, would you?


Dan said...

"The post Vatican II papacy seems unworkable." What??!!?? Rent a pope for a few weeks/years? Is this what you thought during the years when St. John Paul II was pope?

Fr Ray Blake said...

No Dan but then I had the weird idea that being Pope was something that lasted until death, that it had a 'sacramental' character like kingship (as I suspect we all did), now we have been shown that is not so. As the personality of the Pope have been made so important by this Pope, it seems quite possible to have a different type of Pope.
I am thinking more in terms of a senile Pope, there is quite a bit of evidence that this not an innovation, lots of Popes were chosen because they were half dead, or incapable.

Tamsin said...

Only a self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagian would refuse those kittens their meal. And meeting them where they are at, I suppose the host should be tuna-flavored at first.

At risk of being scolded for drawing an analogy between the politics of this world and the politics of the next, you may be interested to listen to William Voegeli diagnose the problems that arise from relying on compassion as a basis for policy without measuring results. Or, you may prefer to read this long-ish review of his book.

Fr. Andrew Pinsent said...

Fr Ray. Thank you for another outstanding blog post. I agree wholeheartedly with your concern about the relative lack of references to God, grace, salvation, supernatural, or conversion. God has offered us a new covenant, a kind of spiritual marriage through grace. Sin is spiritual adultery, and without sanctifying grace, the condition of salvation, we are damned for eternity. How can any issue be considered more important? As Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote (twice in fact), "The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse." Where is that sense of priority today among so many of our shepherds? Where is the acute holy fear of deliberately closing off the path of grace to millions by attempting an insane redefinition of evil as good? God forgives sins; but even God cannot redefine sin as holiness. I just hope and pray that I live out my priestly ministry and die in the faith of Cardinal Newman and the saints.

Gertrude said...

This, to me is a nightmare scenario. Our Faith is not about us, but about God. The Papacy has in my lifetime (of 7 Popes) been the unifying symbol of the Catholicity of the Church. Now it is not. A decentralised Church would be a nightmare in this country. Depending on where you lived, and the proclivity of whichever Archbishop, some sins would be just ok, and some sins not. We have a very liberal Arch, not really interested too much in the Diocese he has, but treading water 'til retirement and he can return from whence he came. How would decentralisation be good for the Church?

The antics of the Synod would have been unbelievable a few years ago. Do we not have a right to expect those who are in authority to at least believe?

Santa said...

Yes, those are "Absurd ideas,...". Get a grip man!

Highland Cathedral said...

Regarding decentralisation, an interesting example is the decision-making regarding Holydays of Obligation. This seems to have been decentralised to Bishops’ Conferences. So the possibility exists that Scotland and England could have different Holydays. If that were the case then it could be that missing Mass on a particular day could be a mortal sin in Gretna and no sin at all in Carlisle.

TLM said...

How could anyone deny these precious adorable little kittens the body of Christ? And while we're at it, along with inviting non Catholics (married to Catholics) to receive, as some of the Synod Fathers have been banging the drum for, why not invite ALL of the Protestants, along with the Muslims, Buddhists, those of the Jewish faith, and maybe even the 'New Agers' and the Atheists? Doesn't EVERYONE deserve the Sacrament of MERCY?? I mean really, what's this wrong headed idea of SIN anyway? We just need to meet people 'where they are' and 'walk with them'. THEIR consciences, after all, reign supreme you know. They are INVIOLABLE. No Churchman has any right whatsoever to violate a conscience. Come one, come all to the sacrament of MERCY!!

Physiocrat said...

Where else is there to go? And why go anywhere if the church on one's doorstep is in good shape?

Jacobi said...

Second kitten from the left looks intelligent. He would choose, not to receive, he being not in a fit state to do so, and accepting this.

John Vasc said...

The problem with doing without a Pope except as a silent figure, is that the Holy Father was (up to and including Pius XI) the guarantee and enforcer of ecclesial orthodoxy, and if we were to be left to the tender mercies of an episcopal committee, we'd never stop arguing.
Since Marx, Kaspar etc have rather impudently announced that they will do what they like (and I notice they haven't offered to take a referendum vote of *all* German Catholics to make sure they actually agree with them - though such a vote might have a surprising result) then we should just let them traipse down their own primrose path. Our Lord has told us not to disturb the tares until He gathers them into His Eternal barn. And He has given us all the light of conscience.

David O'Neill said...

As was initially said Communion could be offered to those spouses who "accept the dogma of the Church" regarding Communion. Surely, if they do they should be Catholic!!!

As to decentralisation; we can see what happens when this occurs; everything begins to fall apart. My accepted was that the Catholic Church was One, Holy & Catholic (universal). How does decentralisation fit into this mould?

Physiocrat said...

TLM - Interesting that you should raise this point. I have often myself asked if one could ordain a cat?

Animals have rights too. Is it not discriminatory and unfair to exclude non-humans from the priesthood?

Ivan said...

David O'Neill-

"The rebellion must come...therefore brethren, stand fast and hold to tradition..."

-The Apostle Paul, 2nd Thessalonians, Chapter 2

Deacon Augustine said...

"maybe it could be a requirement that only the senile ever sat on the Papal throne"

Well its not working out very well at the moment.

All we need from a Pope is that he reads, understands and then rules in accordance with Pastor Aeternus. It isn't rocket science unless one has delusions of corporate advancement from Vicar of Christ to the next paygrade higher. Has anybody found out which idiot bishop believes that "the Pope can twist God's hands" yet?

Remnant Clergy said...

The "decentralized church" is merely another term for the one world church, which follows the heresy of indifferentism promoted by Freemasonry, in which all religions are just different paths to "god", the "great architect", who is of course the devil. As some interventions said, satan and his smoke are in the synod, and it runs all the way to the very top. Be ready for the schism in which the minority of faithful prelates finally say "ENOUGH!" and offer sacraments in the virtual catacombs.

BrazilianJoe said...

We have to understand that these men are revolutionaries. They are stuck in time and history, and do not have any perception of eternity in their personal lives. For them, eternity is either a nonsense or a vague philosophical concept. No matter if they come from a materialistic or "christian" background, the temporal axis is always inverted: they believe that paradise must be or may be, as an antecipation, here and now, provided that the helpless Mankind - all of us - bowes to their enlightment. In a nutshell, this is Gnosticism, pure and simple. As in a e. e. cummings' poem:

"everybody happy?
& to hell with the chappy
who doesn’t agree".

And no doubt they will move the hell against the chappy who doesn't agree...

I am not a theologian, thank God, but I dare to say that, from a Catholic point of view, these men stopped at the sixth last word of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the cross: "It is achieved". For them, salvation is a fait accompli, no matter what man does or fails to do. That is why salvation itself, sin, grace, supernatural and conversion do not deserve anything, nada, zero, zilch from their mouths.

And to hell with the chappy who doesn't agree ...

But we know there are the last seventh words: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit". The previous sixth one closed the earthly time of Our Lord, as it will close our time in Earth as well. It is the last nail in our sixfold side coffin. The seventh words are the absolute and eternal glory of the Christ, and our wonderful and appaling entrance into Eternity, our personal Novissimi: Death, Judgement, Hell and Heaven. But the revolutionaries do not believe this.

And to hell with the chappy who does believe ...

Finally, I have to say that, in my understanding, if you are in, you are fully in; if you are out, you are fully out. There is no way to keep one foot in and the other out. At the same time, someone rightfully said (I do not remember who) that the Church is always a frontier inside us: some parts of us are in communion with the Church, and others are not, because of sin. That is why Our Lord teached us to "Be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect". That is why we need the Sacraments, the Grace and the Mercy of God to perfect us, to complete us. This is the reality of unity, but for the Modernists, this call is "unrealistic" ... We are naive, imersed in superstitions and mesmerized by the "doctors of Law". For them, unity means fraternity, a masonic collection of broken parts put together by man's will to pursue what they call "common good". In sum, a Frankenstein (or should I say a Francistein?).

In my opinion, the facts speak for themselves. No need to ponder about intentions. Objectively, a crime is being perpetrating against the Church, the Mankind and ultimately against God. These people have to be exposed, demoralized and defeated, sans quartier.

gemoftheocean said...

perhaps would be popes should be required to take a basic catechism test and pass it?

Anonymous said...

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
-WB Yeats, The Second Coming

David O'Neill said...

Can we bring that (the catechism test) down to bishop level?

Liam Ronan said...

Dear Father,

You have observed: "In our characteristic, neo-Jansenist Western way, we are obsessed with wounds and blood and individuals suffering or sentimentality rather than the blinding light of the Transfiguration or the Resurrection, or the transforming fire of Pentecost."

Spot on! I heard a gentleman on 'Question Time' refer to this obsessive state in the political/moral realm as "Diana-ization". An apt characterization.

The Bedards said...

I am so blessed to know:

Liam Ronan said...

Forgive this addition to my last remark, Father, but something else you've mentioned struck me:

"From what I know about God he is not into dumb-shows or pretending anything. Before he is the God of surprises he is the God of truth and transparency, of honesty and integrity."

I don't know about any of the other readers out there, but I have found that since Bergolio appeared I have never had such a consuming desire and occasion for revision and research of the fundamentals of my Catholic Faith, i.e. patristics, dogma, practice, and the like. I suppose until 2013 I was remiss in my ongoing education in the Faith, but no more. I suspect too (although I might be wrong) many many Catholics of a more traditional/orthodox persuasion have gone back to the books and are immensely better for it.

Perhaps this is a beneficial outcome that God has intended? To know, love , and serve Him better.

I couldn't venture a guess as to what percentage of 'pastoral' types have been bothered to check the foundations.

DJR said...

I love the kittens.

My father has often stated that animals go to Heaven when they die because they do the will of God perfectly here below.

It appears that we will be called upon to make some hard choices in the future, ones we never imagined we would have to make.

When does a person finally decide that any particular man, or group of men, in authority can no longer be considered Catholic and thus do not have to be followed or obeyed in anything?

Hasn't such a time already been reached for, say, the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Chicago? Their ordinary has just publicly advocated for the reception of Holy Communion by practicing sodomites.

Is such a man still a Catholic? How?

William Tighe said...

So, you already have a copy of Fr. Bouyer's *Memoirs*? Well, when another copy reaches you in the post, please bestow it where it may do some good.

Fr Ray Blake said...

William, too kind of you. My copy is already in circulation in the parish. I wanted to refer to it, so another copy will be gratefully received.

William Tighe said...

I sent you the Ignatius Press translation, which was published in the middle of this month. The translation published by Angelico Press in August of this year has a much more extensively amplified range of footnotes than the Ignatius Press version.

It is hardly frequent to see two separate translations of a book which, although of great interest, is hardly likely to be a commercial best seller, appear almost simultaneously. I wonder how such a situation came about.

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